5 Tips on Raising Funds
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Fundraising is one of the most daunting tasks for an entrepreneur. Every company has to raise capital at different points in time but there could be several dilemmas attached to the question ‘Where do I raise funds from next and how do I do that?’ Shivani Siroya, Founder and CEO, Tala, a California-based fintech company shares five power points to keep in mind while raising funds. Tala recently raised $110 million in Series D round of funding led by RPS Ventures. The fintech start-up has loaned $1 billion to over 4 million customers. Siroya says, “Fundraising takes time and resilience but is well worth the effort to secure partners that support your vision.”
KNOW YOUR UNIT ECONOMICS
None of the pitch matters if you don’t know your unit economics like the back of your hand. A helpful question is: Will each dollar you spend on a user generate profit or are you spending more than the user brings in? This helps you understand how each additional user impacts your business, and understand how long it will take for each user to turn a profit, and arms you with data about your company’s health. This will not only reassure investors, but it will also give you confidence to make any conversation a success.
ESTABLISH CLEAR LEARNING GOALS
Find out why investors did or didn’t invest and use that data to fill gaps in your business. No matter the outcome of a meeting, learning should always be your goal (behind securing the funding!). As you progress in rounds, make the goals specific to the current status of your company. For our Series A, we went with a lead fund that focused on data science and machine learning companies; they advised us on building our data team and creating a strong data platform to understand the lives of our customers.
For our Series B, we focused on firms with experience in credit and lending businesses, as well as capital markets; for our Series C, we focused on firms best suited to guide us through rapid growth and sustainable scaling.
With our Series D, it was all about channeling additional capital to create more value for our customers by testing new products, as well as expanding deeper into existing markets and exploring new markets.
As your business grows, the challenges will grow, so you have to prioritize learning.
GET TO YOUR ‘NO’ FAST
Zero in on the right partners and don’t waste too much time or diligence on people who won’t actually invest. Fundraising can be a time consuming process, so it’s important to be as efficient as possible. Practice this by setting a goal for how many meetings you’re willing to give an investor before moving forward on a decision. If something is not a good fit, you and everyone else will appreciate establishing that quickly and respectfully.
IT’S OKAY TO BE SELECTIVE
It’s key to have investors who align with your vision and values. If you can’t imagine taking critical feedback from someone during hard times, or celebrating with them after a big win, they are probably not a fit for you.
TRUST YOUR VISION
No one knows the problem you’re solving better than you. Be relentless about staying true to your customers. Before I launched my business, I spent about three-and-a-half years having an estimated 3,500 conversations with small business owners. I’ve collected many lessons from these one-on-one interactions, including the vast importance of listening to people - your customers, advisers, potential investors - to gather immeasurably valuable experiences and insights to achieve your goals. Trust your vision and don’t get discouraged.
(This article was first published in the November 2019 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)